Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
Disclosure: This post was supposed to be a recap of a reading I was planning on doing at the Annual Wine, Words and Works of Art event at our local library on April 1,2016. However, my body had other plans. Two weeks into home dialysis, I am adjusting to the new routine, slowly learning to accept the limitations it imposes… for now. I fully expect these limitations will be temporary. In a few weeks, I will transition to a nighttime “cycler” which will automatically drain and fill while I sleep. Currently, I am doing manual exchanges (drain-fill) four times a day. Freedom is on the horizon!
I have done a fair number of readings since my memoir was published in 2104 so I decide to move forward with the lessons learned.
Plan B is in order.
Book readings are wonderful opportunities for the author and the reader to come together face-to-face. I know when I’ve been invited into someone else’s world through their story, it would thrill me to meet them and learn more about the person behind the words.
Meeting readers face-to-face has been one of the most gratifying and motivating aspects of being an author.
What is the best way to prepare for a reading?
I can tell you what has worked for me and I hope to hear your ideas as well.
The day before the local event, I had attended my grandson Jacob’s fifth grade “Monuments and National Parks Event” in his classroom. The students set up poster boards and pamphlets at their desks and answered questions about their projects. A nearby table had computers to view two-minute iMovies they had produced on their topics. It was a multimedia event.
When I asked Jacob what advice he would give about doing a presentation, he said,
“When you think you have enough, keep going.”
With that in mind, here are seven lessons I’ve learned about book readings:
Select your passage(s) ahead of time and practice reading in front of a mirror, talk into a tape, or read to friend or family member.
Research your topic, and audience. You may not know about the audience ahead of time but be clear about your key messages, whether you have 2 or 125 people attend. Select several different passages and decide which ones to read based upon your specific audience.
Also prepare for anything. Since my memoir is about domestic abuse, I have been asked many questions that have challenged me. I have learned to expect anything. When you write from your personal truth and allow yourself to be vulnerable as we do in memoir, you have to be prepared to address these areas of vulnerability. It has been a growing experience for me.
- Interact with your audience:
The last thing you want to do is bore your audience by reading aimlessly. Encourage interaction through eye contact, brief explanation of backstory or your purpose for writing your story and asking questions. Some authors don’t read passages. They prefer to talk with the audience and entertain questions. It’s a personal decision how you handle it but keeping the audience engaged is a priority. Along those lines, be sure to thank them for coming.
- Consider multiple ways to get your message across:
When material is presented in various forms, it increases the likelihood for engagement and learning. It also addresses the learning styles of individuals. For example. some people are visual learners so a power point presentation may appeal to them.
- Pay attention to your display…it is an extension of you:
This goes along with #3. You may have props to reinforce the message of your book. Since the topic of my memoir is on domestic abuse and empowerment, I have a variety of teaching materials with fact sheets and resource numbers.
You may not need any props at all but make sure your table has a pleasant presentation.
- Bring enough books to sell…and pens and bookmarks, etc:
This fits in with the being prepared category. I also keep a sheet of paper for people to sign up for my blog and newsletter and press releases and business cards for people to take.
6.Spread the words about your reading on social media before and after the event:
Rally the troops. If you want to reach readers, you have to be willing to promote your work. It isn’t selfish.
7. Have fun:
Just when you think you don’t have any time to do a reading because you think you should be writing, remember why you are writing in the first place…to reach others.
What better way to stay motivated and focused than to bond with your readers in person?
To paraphrase Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz (Be sure to check out her website for a wealth of book marketing resources):
“Self-promotion is not selfish. Rather, you are sharing the gift of your book with the world.”
Thank you, Sandra for this gift of perspective.
How about you? Do you have any other ideas to add about book readings? As authors, what has worked for you? As readers, what do you enjoy the most about readings?
I’d love to hear from you Please leave your comments below~
Congratulations to Michelle Monet for winning Robert Yehling’s biography of an autistic surf star (Clay Marzo), Just Add Water: A Surfing Savant’s Journey with Asperger’s and to Patricia Walker for winning his writing prompt book, The Write Time:366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Daily Writing Life.
Congratulations to Merril Smith for winning Pamela Jane’s memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing.
Pamela Jane returns with this guest post: “An Incredible Talent for Storytelling”